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Pocahontas - Real Person, History & Death - Biography
Author: Shannon Zemlicka Shannon Zemlicka has written books for young readers about Pocahontas, Neil Armstrong, Florence Nightingale, mallard ducks, and many other topics. Related Products Add to Cart. Quick View. Add to Cart. Pocahontas was a Powhatan Native American woman, born around , known for her involvement with English colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. In a well-known historical anecdote, she saved the life of Englishman John Smith, by placing her head upon his own at the moment of his execution.
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Pocahontas later married a colonist, changed her name to Rebecca Rolfe and died while visiting England in Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the leader of an alliance of about 30 Algonquian-speaking groups and petty chiefdoms in Tidewater Virginia known as Tsenacommacah. Even Smith is inconsistent on the question of her age, however. Although English narratives would remember Pocahontas as a princess, her childhood was probably fairly typical for a girl in Tsenacommacah.
Like most young females, she learned how to forage for food and firewood, farm and building thatched houses. Like many Algonquian-speaking Virginia Indians of the period, Pocahontas probably had several names, to be used in various contexts. Early in her life she was called Matoaka, but was later known as Amonute.
The Double Life of Pocahontas
The name Pocahontas was used in childhood, probably in a casual or family context. Pocahontas was primarily linked to the English colonists through Captain John Smith, who arrived in Virginia with more than other settlers in April The Englishmen had numerous encounters over the next several months with the Tsenacommacah Indians. While exploring on the Chickahominy River in December of that year, Smith was captured by a hunting party led by Powhatan's close relative Opechancanough, and brought to Powhatan's home at Werowocomoco.
In his account, Smith described a large feast followed by a talk with Powhatan. In this account, he does not meet Pocahontas for the first time until a few months later. In , however, Smith revised his story in a letter to Queen Anne, who was anticipating the arrival of Pocahontas with her husband, John Rolfe.
Historians have long expressed doubts that the story of Pocahontas saving Smith occurred as told in these later accounts. Smith may have exaggerated or invented the account to enhance Pocahontas's standing. Another theory suggests that Smith may have misunderstood what had happened to him in Powhatan's longhouse. Rather than the near victim of an execution, he may have been subject to a tribal ritual intended to symbolize his death and rebirth as a member of the tribe. It is possible that Powhatan had political motivations for bringing Smith into his chiefdom.
Early histories establish that Pocahontas befriended Smith and assisted the Jamestown colony. Pocahontas often visited the settlement. When the colonists were starving, "every once in four or five days, Pocahontas with her attendants brought him [Smith] so much provision that saved many of their lives that else for all this had starved with hunger. In late , John Smith returned to England for medical care. The English told the Indians that Smith was dead.
According to the colonist William Strachey, Pocahontas married a warrior called Kocoum at some point before Nothing more is known about this marriage, which may have dissolved when Pocahontas was captured by the English the following year. Pocahontas' capture occurred in during the First Anglo-Powhatan War. Captain Samuel Argall pursued an alliance with the Patawomencks, a northern group of dubious loyalty to Powhatan.
https://danrie.tk Argall and his indigenous allies tricked Pocahontas into boarding Argall's ship and held her for ransom, demanding the release of English prisoners and supplies held by Powhatan. Little is known about Pocahontas' year with the English. It is clear that a minister named Alexander Whitaker instructed Pocahontas in Christianity, and helped her to improve her English through reading the Bible. Whitaker baptized Pocahontas with a new, Christian name: Rebecca.
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The selection of this name may have been a symbolic gesture to the Rebecca of the Book of Genesis who, as the mother of Jacob and Esau, was the mother of two nations. In March , violence broke out between hundreds of English and Powhatan men. The English permitted Pocahontas to talk to her father and other relatives as a diplomatic maneuver. According to English sources, Pocahontas told her family that she preferred to remain with the English rather than returning home.